Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CAN MODI DELIVER RAMRAJYA?



“Give Modi a chance and the nation will make great progress.” “We need someone strong who will set the things right.”   “Anything is better than the Congress.” “2002 is an old story and people have forgotten it”, “See how many deaths happened in riots during Congress rule”. “He will give Industry a boost”. “The rupee will go up”. “India will have some hope”. “This is our best chance”.  “He will tackle corruption”. “We can restore Dharma”……  This total picture being projected sounds very tempting alright… But what does a reality check say…? Can the promises be fulfilled? And whether the promises are fulfilled or not, what would be the cost?  

1.       Modi is constrained by his grooming: Let us start with the idea that Modi was a disciplined Pracharak of the RSS. The discipline part is indeed good; it entails a lot of sacrifice too. But what about the negatives that are inherent in the philosophy of the RSS? The very same discipline also ingrains those negatives into him… It is so much a part of him now that he feels offended when he is offered a skull cap. He finds it difficult to come out vociferously and say “All those who murdered innocents during the Godhara incident and in the riots after that deserve the harshest punishment”.  His grooming makes it impossible for him to condemn all the murders in one breath. This indicates the potential to go against the interest of righteousness if it suits his own group. His grooming makes it impossible for him to see Indians as a homogenous group.
2.       An exclusive nationalism: This inability to see homogeneity is also inbuilt into the sense of ‘nationalism’ which he stands for. His nationalism is exclusive, his nation is the nation of the RSS; it is about a “Hindu” nation by name, but anti-Hindu in content.  For example, the RSS ideology professes belief in, among other things, Vasudaivakutumbakam; but dig a little deeper and one sees that the vision defies the core of this very all-embracing principle.   
3.       Hindus are nice big brothers: To elaborate, when Advani went over to Pakistan and said to the Pakistanis, ‘see…? Your founder said you must take care of the Hindus’, he was expressing his belief that the elder brother (in Pakistan the Muslim is the elder brother) must take care of the younger brother (the Hindu). Advani believes that in India we, being Hindus, do a better job of taking care of our younger brothers. This is an essential belief of the RSS and it is what Modi and his partners stand for. Let us call it the “big-brother/small-brother” perspective. Though the use of the term ‘brother’ makes it sound sweet from the outside, the position violates two important principles that defines us as a nation.
4.       Big Brother-small brother Vs Democracy: Democracy has inbuilt mechanisms to protect the citizens from majoritarianism. These include a) the formulation of the fundamental rights b) institution of checks and balances in the power structure and c) the higher level of difficulty involved in changing the constitution of India. These defences are set up to protect the citizens from exactly the kind of forces which Modi represents. The defences are set up to dissuade those big brothers who want to impose their views and aspirations on others. Democracy does not want anyone to run rough shod over anyone else—not even the majority can run over the minority; instead democracy aspires that the decisions made by elected government must not violate the wisdom that went into the setting up of the nation and the constitution; or in other words decisions must be based on ageless wisdom. The big-brother syndrome on the other hand tends to suggest that ‘since I am in majority I get to boss over you’.   
5.       Big Brother-small brother Vs Vasudaivakutumbakam: The ‘big brother-small brother’ principle also violates the broad mindedness of the Indian civilization. In the principle of “Vasudaiva”, Hinduism believes that we are all the same because we are all spirit; differences are superficial. From this principle it follows that every individual must pursue the “Highest Self” as the primary goal of life. It adds that ‘Self Realized’ souls must all be respected/worshipped. It also follows that every individual has the right to find his own Guru and follow his Guru Parampara diligently. It says that we cannot discriminate between men and women either—they are equal though their roles may differ. This is the same belief expressed in Islam that there is only One God—but of course said in a different format and in a different context. Lord Krishna teaches us not to look down even upon criminals—this follows from the way he treated both Dhuriyodhana and Arjuna equally when they came to him for help in the war. The same lesson also is apparent when lord Rama sends Lakshmana to learn from Ravana when Ravana was on his deathbed. All these indicate that according to the Indian Civilization, though there are differences amongst humans these are to be considered insignificant in comparison to the oneness we all share—therefore the term ‘world is one family’ or ‘Vasudaivakutumbakam’. But in the big brother/small-brother perspective the differences are excessively stressed upon.   
6.       Double standards: Clearly, in expressing a belief in the big-brother/small brother syndrome, and treating different sets of people as different, the extreme right is violating/rejecting this ancient principle of Vasudaivakutumbakam. And this brings to fore what many thinkers today call as the hypocrisy of the hindutwa brigade—shout from the roof tops that the principle on which Hinduism stands is Vasudaivakutumbakam and at the same time violate it.  
7.       Even Gandhiji disapproved: It was not without reason that Gandhiji did not see light for India in the RSS ideology. It must be after a lot of thought that he instead asked Sardar Patel and Nehru to create alternate teams from the Congress itself and fight elections against each other. Indeed, that philosophy, which cannot outright condemn Godse’s act of assassinating the Mahatma, which cannot outright condemn the act of goons knifing pregnant women, pulling out un-born children and slaughtering them… you know that closed minds are at work.   
8.       Modi’s driving force: Modi recently said that he does not decide—this is true. The inherent groupie mentality, majoritarianism, intolerance of ‘other’ ways and beliefs, reaction to provocation by fundamentalists of ‘opponent’ teams, and the non-inclusive nationalism of the RSS decide for him—automatically.  
9.       We all stand to lose: Note that we are all minorities one way or the other, the Brahmins are a minority, the Sikhs are a minority, the Tamils are a minority, the North-eastern states are a minority, the women are a minority, eunuchs are a minority, Kashmir is a minority, city dwellers are a minority, people of one language staying in another state are a minority, every village, every tribe and every caste is a minority, doctors are a minority and fortunately politicians too are a minority.  Do we want a situation where some of these people get together and start imposing their views on any of the given minorities?   Modi will say that some people are going to be unhappy… surely it is right, that when a thief is caught and put in prison he will be unhappy. But even the thief knows that the king who did it to him is fair/just; he will respect that king because the king did his job righteously. A king can make people unhappy but he cannot violate the principles of justice and rule-of-law. But look what happened in Gujarat, neither the victims of Godhra nor the victims of the riots that followed have got justice. And if you carry a tag “Muslim” you can be targeted just because you carry that tag. This is not fairness nor just. And be warned that “Muslim” is not the only tag that can be targeted. Historically it has been long established that those who play big-brother use other terms like terrorists, traitors, infidels, enemies of the state and non-patriots in order to target small groups and spread fear. The idea is to force people to be loyal—to the dictator. Do you now see why you will be sent to Pakistan if you oppose Modi? … and Modi calls them well-wishers…
10.   India will lose its Global promise: India has experimented with something very beautiful in the way it deals with its diversity through its civil code (different personal laws for different groups). By so doing it is pumping energy towards uniting the people of the world. Through such laws the peoples of the nations of the world can understand each other’s needs and peacefully give each other the respective spaces to operate. This can be developed to bring much needed peace to the world. But contrary to this the right wing stands for an idea in which they want India to do away with this accommodation of diversity. This is a step backward from India’s destiny as a leader of the 21st century. This denial of diversity will destroy the beauty and promise of what it is to be Indian. The founders of Pakistan started building Pakistan up saying that they will use Islam to build up a gracious and accommodating state… but like all gracious fundamentalists they placed trust in the big-brother/small-brother principle rather than God-is-One principle; and see what they have made of their nation… Do we want to follow suit…?  

Hindutwa is not the promised destiny of Hinduism…  As the former PM originally said, “This is not Raj Dharma”. Modi may be promising that he will pull the moon down and place it on Delhi—ok Great! But we need to see that the indigenous culture may not be willing to pay the cost. And resilient as this ancient heritage is, the victory of Good over Evil is certain…  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

AAP HAS A DESTINY TO FULFIL: THE PATH IS GANDHIAN



The nation cannot accept the BJP because its inherent communal beliefs can lead to bloodletting. And the nation cannot throw out the BJP because the nation needs an alternative to the Congress; and there is no other party that is big enough to fill those shoes. BJP therefore represents a party which the Indian can neither swallow nor spit out. If, however, the AAP stands up to its destiny India can release the BJP from its misery.   
The following ten points will bring to fore the various ideas that are contained in this debate. Let’s see the points first and the merits of the case will become readily apparent.   
1)  In the last days of his life Gandhiji proposed, among other things, that the Congress split into two formations, one under Nehru and the other under Sardar Patel and fight elections against each other.
2)  The reason he said this was because:
a.  if in the future (it was 1940’s at that time) the congress failed to live up to the high ideals of the freedom struggle then the citizens of India needed an alternative
b.  The alternate ideologies that existed at that time were divisive. They did not have the vision to take India forward as one nation of united people; all of them propagated fragmented nationalism.
c.   Gandhiji wanted the political atmosphere in the country to be free of chauvinism and fragmentation; or in other words he wanted to avoid the poison of groupism based on cooked-up human barriers
3)  A look at today’s situation proves that Gandhiji was again right—as he most often was:   
a.  As Gandhiji feared, the Congress has let values slip—a long way—and it has not stood up credibly to the ideals of the freedom struggle.
b.  There is no alternative basic political ideology that unites Indians. None of them take India forward as a homogenous unit; none of them treat Indians as one.    
c.   The alternative that came up in 1998 was created out of one of the divisive ideologies that existed in Gandhiji’s times; besides using the divisive ideology to spread unrest in society this alternate team too patronized a system that was not free from corruption.
4)  The episodes of 1984 and 2002 demonstrate how the difference in founding ideology matters to the nation. In 1984 when goons went on to the street their ideology screamed at them to “Stop it”; in 3 days the mayhem stopped. Though of course, true to the fall in values—of the Congress—those responsible have not been made to face the law. In 2002 however the ideology itself said “continue”… and so the mayhem went on for months together. This ideology is dangerous for the nation… This particular ideology is essentially fascist in nature.
5)  And the most amazing thing is that though it claims to stand up for Hinduism it is truly anti-Hindu. The tussle is between the Hindutwa of Godse and Hinduism of Gandhi. True that the charge on Congress that it practices pseudo-secularism has some truth in it. But the pseudo-Hinduism of the right wing is far worse. In the garb of ‘nationalism’ Godse acted like an insane man; this approach is apparent even in today’s extreme right. The line that separates courage and foolishness is very narrow; similarly the line that separates nationalism from fragmented nationalism is also narrow. Godse’s was a fragmented nationalism.  
6)  Also do not bother about those who would encourage Arjuna not to fight the Mahabharata war but instead go to a forest and do penance. In today’s system there are no hereditary kings… instead there are political parties and elections. The success of today’s democracy requires that people must take up assignments in the political hierarchy as part of their ‘duty/dharma’. AAP you must do your duty for the nation. And when some people tell you that ‘you are in politics just for selfish interests’, tell them in return that ‘all drivers learn driving only because they want to put sudden break so that girls will come and fall on them’.
7)  The moment is opportune. The well-meaning voters of India are on the desperate lookout for an alternative party to give direction to this nation. Those totally unsatisfied with the Congress are even contemplating giving a divisive ideology one more chance—this tells you how desperate they are.
8)  AAP you have it going your way since you stand up:
a.  Against corruption
b.  Against all kinds of divisions in society
9)  Along with the above two you must also ensure that you inherit the legacy of the Gandhian struggle for freedom; for values, for the poor, for peace and prosperity.
10)              Set up systems; set up procedures; pursue the alternate politics you have come to represent. There is enough grey matter in India to guide you as you go along. If you can institutionalize your uniqueness it holds great promise for the nation.  
Nixon Fernando: Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai nixfdo@gmail.com